According to a recent review in Frontiers, gastrointestinal infections among infants born by cesarean section (CS) may be reduced by 73% with the help of a probiotic isolated from breast milk.

As part of three randomized clinical trials in which Limosilactobacillus (L.) fermentum CECT 5716 was demonstrated to be safe and effective for preventing infections in the CS infant subgroups (n = 173), the researchers examined its effect on gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases.

Vaginal delivery (VD) allows a newborn to be in contact with the mother’s enteric and vaginal microbiota, influencing gut colonization in infants. As well as disrupting this natural colonization process, CS exposes newborns to operating room microbes and perinatal antibiotics. This results in a significantly different microbiota from that of VD infants.

A VD infant’s microbiota is primarily composed of Limosilactobacillus, Prevotella, Bacteroides, Escherichia/Shigella, Bifidobacterium spp, and members of the former genus Lactobacillus.

However, the microbiome of CS-delivered infants is dominated by Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Corynebacterium, Veillonella, and Propionibacterium spp, which delay normal intestinal colonization. Further, CS infants have been observed to have lower total intestinal bacteria and diversity.

During the first year of life, infectious diseases are the leading cause of infant mortality and morbidity worldwide. In addition, it has been depicted that CS infants are more likely to contract gastrointestinal and respiratory infections, as well as hospitalizations related to these infections. 

Probiotic administration to infants born by cesarean section has been evaluated in various studies. However, most of these researches focus primarily on the microbiota’s impact.

Methodology

These double-blind, randomized, controlled trials involved healthy infants exclusively fed formula and included an age range of 1 month to 6 months. Throughout the studies, Limosilactobacillus fermentum CECT 5716 (HEREDITUM® LC40) was used in powdered infant formula with a nutritional composition consistent with current EU regulations as an ingredient.

It was observed that all formulas were well tolerated and that compliance was acceptable. Furthermore, no adverse effects occurred related to formula consumption. The cesarian rates were 31% in Maldoet al. et al., 43% in Gil-Campos et al., and 44% in Maldonado et al.

To obtain a pooled incidence rate ratio (IRR) and 95% CI for gastrointestinal and respiratory infections among CS infants, the experts extracted the data for each study. Then they merged them using the generic inverse variance methodology to obtain each study’s IRR and 95% CI.

Results of The Study

Compared to those receiving the control formula, CS infants who received L. fermentum CECT 5716 experienced a 73% reduction in gastrointestinal infections. However, the pooled results did not show a significant difference in respiratory diseases, despite a decrease of 14% in the probiotic group.

As a result, L. fermentum CECT 5716 protects CS-born infants from gastrointestinal infections by reducing the risk of diseases by 73%.

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